Our first stop of the day was the Da Ku Cultural Centre. Our guide Sheila Kuhniiruk discussed the history of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations people and their relationships to the park and the land. She showed us traditional tools and clothing used by their people for many years, and reinforced the importance of having respect for the elders and the land, who have guided our growth.
Samuel Turcott provided additional information about Kluane National Park. Did you know that Canada and the US share a 2nd highest peak: St Elias?
After a quick visit to Village Bakery, we stopped at Silver City, where we continued a discussion of climate change impacts and what is needed by youth in order to address these issues. Then the dust began to roll in… On the shores of the Kluane Lake and Slims River, we experienced the impact of the receding Kaskawulsh Glacier. With the water dwindling to the Pacific instead of the Bering Sea via Kluane Lake, this has caused the lake and shorelines have receded dramatically! Now, a significant portion of the lake and river bottoms exposed to the Slims Valley winds. The fine glacial sediment now blows, creating large dust clouds, changing the surrounding landscape.
At the Kluane Lake Research Station, two researchers from Squirrel Camp shared highlights from their long term research from a monitoring program on the snowshoe hare and red squirrels. They noticed the increased risk to survival as they rely on camouflage to stay hidden from predators. As the seasons cycles become more variable and inconsistent, the hares’ fur doesn’t change with the seasons as it once did.
Dr. Matthew Ayre then led us back to the past to discuss his unique research of using old whaling log books to map polar ice caps. Bowhead Whales lived at the edges of ice packs where their food was; therefore these whaling log books are able to be used to create a map of sea ice prior to the existence of satellite imagery.
Kwanaschis to all the speakers today!